Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the chronic intestinal disorder that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both, affects between 25 and 45 million people in the U.S. and can be a difficult disorder to live with.

Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown. Although stress, anxiety, and depression do not cause the disorder, they can worsen IBS symptoms.

There are treatments available for IBS but it’s mostly treated through an elimination diet. It’s a good idea to keep track of what you usually eat on a day-to-day basis and noting any trigger foods that cause a flare-up. Flare-ups can come in the form of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps.

IBS can be frustrating, especially when it doesn’t show signs of improving. Here’s a list of foods that you should be consuming and foods you should be avoiding.

Foods to heal

1. Peppermint

If you’re struggling to find a natural remedy to treat your IBS symptoms, then look no further. Peppermint, either taken as a capsule or in the form of tea, can relieve stomach cramps, bloating and gas.

It’s gentle on the stomach and contains no caffeine, which is why it’s so appealing to IBS sufferers.

2. Lemons

There are many reasons why lemons are good for you:

  • High in vitamin C
  • Improves skin
  • Can prevent kidney stones
  • Promotes hydration
  • Supports weight loss

Lemon is good for your digestive system and can be effective in alleviating IBS symptoms like constipation and heartburn. Of course, what works for one person might not work for another and you could find that lemons worsen your symptoms. Still, it’s worth trying as a natural remedy.

The best way to include lemons in your diet is by drinking warm lemon water in the morning. You might find that it gives you more energy throughout the day.

3. Manuka honey

Regular honey doesn’t have the same benefits as Manuka honey. Some of these benefits include:

  • Healing properties
  • Soothes a sore throat
  • Boosts energy
  • Improves digestion

Many IBS sufferers have low stomach acid, which causes digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, and a feeling of fullness. If you suspect that low stomach acid might be to blame, then Manuka honey will help with your symptoms.

You could start off by eating a teaspoon of Manuka honey every morning before breakfast and see if your symptoms improve.

4. Ginger

Ginger contains digestive enzymes, which helps to promote digestion and relieve cramps. You could add fresh ginger to your meals, or drink ginger tea twice a day to soothe your stomach.

As well as helping with digestive problems, ginger has many other benefits:

  • Relieves nausea
  • Improves appetite
  • Helps to fight off colds

It's also good for increasing low stomach acid. Try eating ginger every day for at least a week to see if your IBS improves.

5. Coconut oil

There are so many uses for coconut oil. You can use it for your hair, skin, and oral hygiene. Due to its anti-bacterial properties, it can help to soothe inflammation in the gut. It also helps to kill off the bad bacteria that could be causing your IBS symptoms.

There are different ways to add coconut oil to your diet but one of the easiest ways would be to simply use coconut oil when cooking. It’s a simple switch that could make a lot of difference to your health. You could also add it to your tea or coffee, depending on what works best for you.

Foods to avoid

1. Dairy products

Many IBS sufferers find that their flare-ups are triggered by dairy, so it’s a good idea to cut out milk, cheese, ice cream and any other dairy products for a week and see if it makes a difference.

If you notice that you suddenly have more energy and your digestive problems improve, then it’s very likely you have lactose intolerance.

2. Fried foods

Fries, burgers, and other fatty foods should be completely reduced as these are known IBS triggers.

It can especially make IBS-related diarrhea worse. You don't have to cut out all fried foods but limiting how often you consume those foods should make a huge difference to your digestive health.

3. Wheat

Celiac disease or gluten intolerance could be responsible for your IBS symptoms and you should find immediate relief after cutting out wheat and gluten for a week or two.

Cutting out wheat can be hard but there are alternatives that you can try. It might be best to gradually cut out things like bread and pastries before you completely go gluten-free.

Of course, if you suspect that you have celiac disease then a visit to the doctor is advised.